Sometimes an experience catches your eye, which you have no clue what it is, nobody you know has done it, or doesn’t show up on any blogs, but you have to do it.
Why, well it looks like fun.
In my household, we have different jobs. OJ is the IT Specialist, Head of the Accounting Department, and the Dishwasher Loader Specialist. My jobs include Social Planner, Meal Planner, and Travel Coordinator. As long as we have been dating, I have been in charge of doing the travel planning, arrangements, packing, and getting us to wherever we are going.
I do “planning” for a living, so I am sort of an expert and one day, I am planning a posting about how I plan.
Getting back to the story, we were going on a cruise and as the travel coordinator, my job was to figure out and book the excursion. OJ only had one request, so I was pretty free to make the decisions on it.
I happened to be working on St. Maarten, when I came across a little blurb about one of the excursions. Regatta – race around beautiful St. Maarten on an actual American Cup Racing Yacht.
I thought, cool go cruising around the island; OJ will love that. So I signed us up.
Here comes the part where Norwegian Cruise Lines didn’t explain much. Yes, you are on a racing yacht. Yes, your crew (guides, teachers) are actual professional sailors, yes the both boat and the sailors have been in the American Cup, and yes, you do race around the island. But you do the work.
That’s right, it wasn’t a cruise around the island. It was an actual race, where you as the tourist, are part of the crew and expected to do your duties; even if you have no clue what to do.
But let’s back up. First off, after two days partying at sea, we had to wake up before six to catch the dingy to the spot where we meet our crew. There were about 60 of us and were divided into 3 groups and assigned a boat. OJ and I were assigned the True North (cool name). Then you were assigned a job; mine was Right Back Mass Wrench– or as I called it, I was the right mess of a wench for the job.
Oj did something with the mass up front that they needed a manly man (their words not mine). Him and another young man, that looked just as wide awake as I felt, were assigned the manly job of opening and closing the main sail.
Then we took another dingy out to the boat. Once on and in our places, the crew of three taught us all we had to know. Since at the max there are about 10 professional crew members who do about six different jobs at once, it was kind of understood that mistakes were going to be made by the 20 of us.
My job was tightening and untightening a rope. And for some reason, I messed it up a couple of times. I blamed this on the lack of coffee and two days of partying at sea.
Once the crew thought we had our jobs down to where we weren’t going to run a million dollar yacht into the beach, we did a practice round. A nice slow warm up jog around the island, in which we found out sailing is very hard work.
Then we got ready; a gun went off we were racing. The sails at full mask, all of us trying to do a job, that a normal crew member would have done, plus five others at the same time. The captain is yelling orders. And all of us having no clue where we were in the race.
It was a glorious mess, but so much fun. On our second lap (I think) we were allowed to take a break, while our captain gave a rousing speech. Something along the lines of how when we go home at the end of the day, just remember one thing…our answer if asked how we did is… we won.
We also toasted our fellow crew with water, since they didn’t want a bunch of drunken novice plowing their million-dollar ship into the rocks.
Then we started the final lap. All this time of tightening and untightening a rope, I had no clue where we were or how are we doing. I did look up once to see the other two ships behind me.
“Are we winning,” I asked one of the crew members who was in charge of my area. She looked back and then said. “We are in second right now.” Then she pointed to the ship that was the farthest back, “They are winning by a long shot.”
To this day, I still can’t figure out how she figured that one out.
Our last lap was done (about 1/3 of a small Regatta race) and we were exhausted. Tightening and untightening a rope is hard work. It turns out we got second (hey, we didn’t lose).
Usually, there is a lesson at the end of these blog posts about something I learned. A valuable secret that will change the way I look at the world. Well, here it is…sailing is hard work.
Also if you get a chance to do this, stop drinking the day before.